Friday, April 10, 2015

Hiking to Quilliams Falls

Hike to Quilliams Falls

Dana Koogler solo
Thursday April  9, 2015
Total hike distance= 2 miles approx. 

Pictures are here: 
Quilliams Falls Pix

   I  got to looking at the photos of my pals Mike Maples, Rhonda and Mitch Reagan from 
their hike up Sugarland Mountain the other day.  I had done that hike a lot of times, but it hit me
how long it had been since I was there last!  I also got to digging around on You Tube and realized
I no longer had any video footage of that waterfall.   I planned a tough hike for Friday so I needed to 
be careful not to wear myself out too bad on Thursday. I also needed time to do some chores around home.
I decided this would be a perfect hike for the day.    

       I took along the GPS with the way points, but I ended up not using it.  I left it on in my pack in case 
I needed it to track back, but it did not come out again until I took it out to turn it off.   I knew I would be 
able to find the place to park, but I hoped I'd be able to pick up the path since it is an unofficial one.
I had come in a different ways on various trips.  Today for old time's sake I decided to park and come in 
the same way  I did the first time ever.   I recalled pleasant memories of the joy of finding a special 
off the beaten track location with a friend.   

     I was met at once with slopes covered in white trilliums. I also saw a forest floor strewn with 
yellow trilliums and violets.   Fringed phacelia was scattered about in a few spots.   Some of the trilliums
had just begun aging to pink.   The stream looked beautiful with its rippling white water and mossy green rocks.   I had a sunny, warm day for my hike.  The air smelled fresh and clean.   

Slopes of Sugarland Mountain filled with patches of large white flowered trilliums. 
Hickory King Branch
Fringed phacelia growing along the banks of the creek.  This flower can form massive carpets!

    I was glad I chose to enter the woods near my jeep and amble around a little.
It gave me plenty of time to see what was blooming and to enjoy walking up the creek. I was able to photograph and soak up the sights of each cascade.   The stream here is not filled with lots
of large cascades, but small ones. It remains pretty the higher you go. It is filled with large mossy rocks.  Lots of springs come out of the earth up here to form part of the headwaters and increase 
the volume of the stream.  

      I could see in the distance to my left a flat area. I knew that was the way I'd come in before.
I finally crossed the stream and was able to pick up the traveled path.   I only had to cross once more.   Crossing number one was because of my choice of route to enter.   Hiking the old 
abandoned highway in is easier, but it is not as scenic to start off.   Higher up if you stay with it
is another old home site and some really good wildflowers.  I missed that today, but  I was not
concerned about it.    It just felt good to be in the woods.   It tickled me to see places and remember them.   My season in Hell... and my subsequent blank pages of memory have shown 
me how valuable those things are to me.  I took my time and savored the simplest things. 
Being able to remember a creek crossing. Being able to see the masses of Dutchman's pipe vine
hanging from the trees and knowing I was on the right track.  I had seen those spots before.
It felt mighty good.   

 Remnants of an old rock wall from a settlers house.  The Andy Quilliams Family lived up in here. He was said to be a moonshiner.  
Deep pink trillium 

    I began seeing old rock walls. I saw an old rock pile that was either a chimney pile or a cairn.
I saw the hole in the rocks that has a pile of stones before it.   Mike Maples said on his post this was an old timey place for refrigeration.  I have no doubt that is so.  Our friend Ed Choate's grand parents told of using Hood Cave as their refrigerator.  My own great grandmother told of  her childhood home being built over a stream. They'd take the floor boards up and set their perishables down in the creek to keep them cold. It also served to hide their food from marauders
who would steal everything you had back then.    

 Small attractive slide area in the creek on the way up.  

Near the slide is this "frigidaire" as my Granny Caricofe would have said.  She was deeply affected by the Civil War and would ask me what my navel was? The correct answer was always "It's where the Yankee shot me!".  How was I ever going to grow up right in the head
being raised like that?!  

               I came to the spot where the path turned sharply uphill and entered a rhododendron tunnel.   It continues on to the big rocks up there and to the falls.  Up further is Quilliams Cave.
Due to my time limits today I was mainly wanting to visit the falls and see wildflowers.   
I passed an overlook on the way and had to stop to check out the view.

 Path thru the rhodo tunnel. It was rather hot in this tunnel as no breeze was stirring!
Overlook of the Sugarland Valley 
This view was only partial thanks to the trees, but I still enjoyed it.  Can you see Chimney Tops thru the trees? 

     I passed a little bit of pioneer junk.  I also recognized a home site.  I remembered that on the first two trips up here there were white quartz rocks marking the way.   All those were gone now.
I saw some blown down trees, but was still able to recognize the path down to Quilliams Falls.
I could hear it long before I saw it.   

 I sat down at the foot of the falls and just soaked it all in for awhile.  I then crossed over to get 
a different vantage of it than I'd ever had before.  I got a profile shot of it.  Being over here
splashed me with water, but even that felt good.  It also gave me a view of a small spring
flowing out of the bank beyond the falls. 

Spring from behind the waterfall.

Quilliams Falls is about 25 feet high.  

   I sat and enjoyed the falls a little longer and cooled off.   I was pleased to have remembered
how to get here.    I began my hike back.    I met a group of seven senior citizen hikers coming in
as I was going out.     I greeted them and parted company.    It was a good day for a hike and I was
pleased with my choice.   I had recognized point along the creek where my route from last time
up here met up with the route I had chosen today.  I decided I'd go back out that way for variety.
It also brought me out at the other parking spot where I saw what must have been the vehicles of the senior hikers.   I thought of Everett Sherrick and his columns he wrote for the Mountain Times Press    back in the day.  I have a book that is a compilation of all his columns. It is called Trails of Invitation.   His writing style was very flowery and full of prose.  I like it.   It showed his true love of these mountains and forests.  It showed how much he appreciated where he lived.    He wrote of lots of simple old out of the way spots.  I have hiked many of them on his recommendation.   I bet he liked this place.  He had hiked lots of the old highway locations where the road was re-routed leaving the former road to deteriorate.   Much of it can still be found though.

Below is a short video of Quilliams Falls.  The music is Smoky Mountain style
and I think the song is The World is Waiting for You.   I am glad that the world waited on me
to get well and didn't move too far along without me.  :-)

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